Four GP surgeries are merging with an existing super-practice to create a 62-partner practice described as ‘the largest in the NHS’.
The giant East Midlands practice is expected to go live in the New Year, when St Mary’s Medical Centre, Sheepmarket Surgery and Little Surgery in Stamford and Oundle Medical Practice formally combines with 30-partner Lakeside Healthcare, which operates surgeries in Corby, Kettering and Brigstock already.
Their combined list will span over 100,000 patients but may not be last merger for Lakeside Healthcare, which wants to expand to cover 300,000 patients eventually.
The new super-practice is separate from another venture in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield, where practices are in talks of forming a super-partnership with ‘nearly 200’ partners.
The Lakeside Healthcare practice is one of NHS England’s ‘new models of care’ vanguard pilots under NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View, which will provide secondary care services as well as standard GP services.
Upon becoming a vanguard, Lakeside Healthcare said it will provide ‘extended primary care services’ to most patients, particularly focusing on services to the most vulnerable 7% of patients who are ‘intensive users’ of healthcare services, such as in-depth consultations and enhanced continuity of care.
It is working together with local hospitals and local authorities but is also planning to employ its own consultants in some specialties.
New services it is rolling out include community and hospital urgent care, an ambulatory care service to reduce pressure on hospitals, long-term conditions management for vulnerable patients – including short-stay community care beds – as well as a number of outpatient services such as dermatology, ophthalmology, MSK, geriatric medicine and mother and baby services.
It said none of the practices it is merging with was at risk of closure and that it now plans additional investment in premises, staff and technology as well as more homevisiting services.
Professor Robert Harris, a partner at Lakeside Healthcare based in Corby said: ‘By bringing together these excellent practices we are uniquely positioned as the largest practice in the NHS, to build a very different type of GP service – one that can cater for the increasingly complex needs of our most vulnerable patients. This is a very good thing.’
Practices joining the super-practice said they were hoping to increase services on offer to patients as well as making their practices a more interesting choice for GPs to come and work.
Dr Mike Richardson, partner at Oundle Medical Practice, said: ‘Being part of a much bigger practice means that we shall be able to attract, recruit and retain the very best doctors and healthcare professionals to our area because we shall be able to offer them a varied and exciting career.’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also commented, saying: ‘By integrating services and moving more care closer to people’s homes, we can ensure efficient spending and prevent unnecessary trips to hospital for the frail elderly and people with long-term conditions.’
This is the latest move towards the consolidation of providers under the vanguard pilots, with Pulse reporting earlier this week of up to five GP practices hoping to merge into their local community hospital after suffering recruitment problems.